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Risk and Reward: Revisiting the 2010-11 MLB Offseason

by Greg Stelmach | Delaware Valley College

F Posted in: Sports and Culture, Voices P Posted on: September 2, 2011
headshot greg stelmach Greg Stelmach

For some reason, most baseball writers couldn’t wait to grade the 2010-11 offseason’s acquisitions.  Heck, they gave their final evaluations even before their taxes were due.  And while their thoughts on Carl Crawford don’t need much revision, a lot has happened since then.  So with football season rapidly approaching, it’s time to crank out one more regular season baseball column as we revisit the best and worst moves of the 2010-11 offseason.

The Good:

-Cliff Lee, Philadelphia; signed for 5 yrs, $120 million

The Phillies threw a lot of money at the lefty, but so far haven’t been disappointed.  Lee’s run of shutouts in June was impressive, and he and Roy Halladay will be the best 1-2 in the NL playoffs.  The only thing that bothers me about the Lee signing was all the press saying Lee took less money to play in Philly.  He didn’t!  The Phillies offered the most per year by a couple million.  It was less overall money, but it was also two fewer years.  While he may have preferred Philadelphia because of the fans, that can’t be assumed.

-Adrian Gonzalez, Boston; acquired from San Diego for Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, and Reymond Fuentes

Boston finally got its great first baseman after Teixera spurned them for the Yankee pinstripes.  Gonzalez has been on a power surge lately and has been consistently the best hitter on the Sox since mid-April.  The real test will be October though, as Gonzalez has only been to the postseason once in his career, back in 2006 when the Padres lost to the Cardinals in the NLDS.  Boston gave up a lot though, and if John Lackey keeps up his feed-em-up routine, Kelly will be missed down the road.  For now though, Gonzo was a tremendous pick-up.

-The Shaun Marcum Trade and Zach Greinke to the Brewers

Both teams got better in the Marcum trade, as the Brewers got a top-of-the-rotation starter and the Blue Jays got one of the games top prospects in Brett Lawrie.  Even better, he’s Canadian and already a fan favorite.  I watched the Canadian team at the Little League World Series and Lawrie was listed as favorite player for about half the kids.  He’s killing the ball and might be on his way to giving the AL East the four best third basemen in the league.

Back to Marcum and Greinke, the Brewers are definitely a World Series contender with the upgraded rotation.  Greinke is the only true ace on the staff, but Marcum is a great number two or three. Yovani Gallardo has ace-quality stuff, but is just too inconsistent.  But those three can absolutely compete with Philly’s rotation, and Milwaukee has got the edge offensively.

The Bad:

-Oakland’s signing/trade spree: Hideki Matsui (1 yr, $4.25 million), David Dejesus (traded Vin Mazzaro), Kevin Kouzmanoff (1 yr, $4.75 million), Josh Willingham (1 yr, $6 million), Brian Fuentes (2 yrs, $10.5 million)

Individually, the acquisitions aren’t too awful, but when compiled together that’s a whole lot of bad.  The funniest one is the Dejesus trade, as Vin Mazzaro proceeded to implode for the Royals as Dejesus has severely disappointed.  It’s kind of the bizarro-Marcum trade.  Billy Beane’s thought process was fine: place a few medium bets and hope a couple hit.  The only problem is that none of them worked out.  For a combined $20 million and the loss of Mazarro (for whatever that’s worth), the A’s got 3.9 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, a sabermetric that looks at a players value over the average next alternative.  $5 million per win may work if you’re the Yankees, but not in Oakland.

-Jayson Werth, Washington; 7 yrs, $126 million

Washington has got to stop going after Philadelphia’s leftovers.  First McNabb failed miserably, then Werth proceeded to underachieve.  What’s next, the Capitals trade for Chris Pronger in 2014?  Werth was really hurt by the injury to Ryan Zimmerman in the first half of the year, and now that the third baseman is back in the lineup Werth is starting to turn it around.  Hopefully for Nationals fans this continues next year, because if it does, Washington all of a sudden has Zimmerman, Werth, Michael Morse, and Danny Espinosa, with Bryce Harper on the way soon.  They have no pitching depth but they’ll hit some home runs.

-Carl Crawford, Boston; 7 yrs, $142 million

Theo Epstein is an enigma of a GM.  He drafts really well, as home grown players like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, and Jon Lester are the foundation of the franchise.  He also makes some great trades, like the Josh Beckett trade (yeah, he gave up Hanley Ramirez, but no 2007 World Series without Beckett in the ALCS and Mike Lowell in the World Series) and the Curt Schilling trade.  But he can’t sign big name free agents!  Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew, John Lackey… and now the latest installment with Crawford.  And the deal will only get worse, as Crawford is a speed guy. He will only deteriorate as the seven year deal drags on.

The Ugly:

Yeah, I’m a big fan of westerns and clichés.  I was going to call it the Chone Figgins Award, but I figure Seattle has enough punishment coming with Tarvaris Jackson leading the Seahawks.

-Adam Dunn, Chicago (AL); signed 5 yrs, $56 million

This is the kind of thing that you only see in the NBA (one of the reasons we won’t be watching pro basketball until February), except this isn’t a lack of effort on Dunn’s part.  His .163 AVG and 157 K’s are atrocious, and now he’s getting sporadic playing time.  I legitimately feel bad for Dunn, who has completely lost his swing, and his frustration has led to writers starting to question his heart.  It’s even gotten to the point he’s kicking around the idea of retiring if he can’t get back on track, which would truly be a shame.  The Big Donkey makes the game a lot more fun with his mammoth home runs, comically poor defense, and his enjoyable press conferences.   I’m rooting for him for Comeback Player of the Year in 2012.

Greg Stelmach Greg Stelmach Greg Stelmach is from New Hope, Pennsylvania and is a sophomore at Delaware Valley College.

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